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Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the correspondence, dated 17 January, from the hon. Member for Leominster, on behalf of a constituent in respect of compensation for loss of his wormery. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the target time will be in 200203 for (a) Ministers to reply to letters from hon. Members and (b) officials in her Department to reply to letters received directly from members of the public. 
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle of 11 June regarding policy guidance for county waste plans. 
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to a letter from the hon. Member for Woking, dated 10 January concerning Mr. A. Giles and the British Cattle Movement service. 
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will provide a substantive reply to the letter from the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner), dated 4 February, her reference 165197, on antibiotic remedies and nitrate vulnerable zones. 
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Mr. Morley: Community legislation on the control of bovine TB for purposes of intra-Community trade is set out in Council Directive 64/432/EC. A recent amendment to this will allow for the use of gamma interferon as an adjunct test. We await publication in the Official Journal.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with members of the European Parliament about a possible inquiry into bovine TB and its causes. 
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how long it takes on average for farmers in (a) England and (b) Wales to receive the results of TB tests on their animals. 
Mr. Morley: Farmers are notified immediately when TB reactors are found in their herd. The average number of days taken for the culture results of samples taken at post-mortem to become available is given in the table.
|Country||Average number of days(1)|
(1) The average number of days between the receipt of samples at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and reporting of the results to the State Veterinary Service Animal Health Office. Figures are based on samples received at VLA since 1 November 2001.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what extra resources have been secured in order to clear the backlog in processing the results of TB tests in England. 
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what resources are being dedicated to ensuring that the results of TB tests on animals in (a) England and (b) Wales are processed as quickly as possible. 
Mr. Morley: The information is not available in the format requested, in that separate figures for England and Wales are not available. The planned expenditure for the 200203 financial year on the bovine tuberculosis testing programme at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency is given in the following table.
The TB skin test gives a result at reading. The owner is notified of the skin test results immediately. Skin test results are confirmed by microbiological culture of tissues removed at post mortem. The main time delay in getting results from the culture of mycobacteria taken from post mortem samples is due to the time it takes for the mycobacteria to multiply sufficiently to be identified.
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|Surveillance for bTB (infection status of cattle, farmed deer and exotic species in GB)||2,624,701|
|TB in cattle post-mortemed at VLA regional laboratories||10,673|
|Surveillance for bTB (infection status of badgers and other wildlife species)||573,568|
|TB in species apart from badgers and cattle||43,987|
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will make a statement concerning the failure to meet the required targets set under MAGP IV for the pelagic sector and the effect this will have on future EU funding for fisheries from 1 January 2003; 
Mr. Morley: The UK has chosen the option to set MAGP IV targets for the pelagic segment of the fleet in terms of fishing effort; and we expect those effort targets to be achieved at the end of 2002, as they were at the end of 2001.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what reports she has received from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate regarding the release of radioactive substances into the groundwater under Sellafield in Cumbria from tanks; and if she will make a statement; 
Margaret Beckett: I have not received any reports from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate about the release of radioactive substances into groundwater under Sellafield. I am aware, however, that technetium-99 (Tc-99) has been detected in groundwater from boreholes in and around the Sellafield site. I understand that the likely source of the Tc-99 leakage is from the B24I sludge storage tanks.
The Environment Agency has carried out an assessment of the radiological impact of the levels of Tc-99 detected and is satisfied that this would be insignificant. Recent borehole data from BNFL supports this conclusion. The groundwater at Sellafield is not used for drinking water supplies.
The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and the Environment Agency, respectively, have asked BNFL to undertake further monitoring of Tc-99 levels on and off the Sellafield site. The regulators will consider whether
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Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total value was of subsidies to agriculture in the UK in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Morley: Our latest estimates relate to 2000, and suggest that in that year UK farmers received in total £4.9 billion of support. In addition to the direct payments and market support measures that fall directly to the EU and UK budgets, this includes the effect on farmers' incomes of the higher prices paid by consumers as a result of the operation of the Common Agricultural Policy.
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